Levi Mukarati/ Vusa Dube/Robin Muchetu, Sunday News Reporters
This time last year, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa appeared to be on the ropes, hounded by a rabid faction in Zanu-PF that had surrounded then President Mr Robert Mugabe.
Less than a year later – after being poisoned, sacked and forced to briefly leave the country – he will be inaugurated for his first five-year term as Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, marking the dawn of the Second Republic.
Joining tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who are expected to converge on the National Sports Stadium in Harare today for the momentous ceremony will be Heads of State and/or their representatives from Sadc and beyond.
On Friday, the Constitutional Court unanimously threw out a challenge against the outcome of the Presidential election brought by opposition MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa, paving way for today’s historic inauguration.
As of last night, our Harare Bureau had it on good authority that the entire Sadc region would be represented at various high levels. President-elect Mnangagwa is the newly-minted Deputy Chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.
Heads of State expected to be in attendance today are Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Mogkweetsi Masisi (Botswana) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda), and Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
President Masisi yesterday indicated on micro-blogging site Twitter that he would be coming to Harare along with former president, Festus Mogae.
“His Excellency the President will be accompanied by the former President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Mr Festus G Mogae, Honourable Dr Unity Dow, Minister of International Affairs and Co-operation, and senior government officials. The Ministry wishes to further inform that former President Lt-Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama will not be joining the delegation due to prior commitments.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared – and the ConCourt affirmed – Cde Mnangagwa as the winner of the Presidential election with 50,67 percent of the vote, ahead of nearest challenger Mr Chamisa’s 44,3 percent.
The inauguration had been put on hold because of the ConCourt challenge. Section 94(1)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says “in the event of a challenge to the validity of their (President and Vice-Presidents) election, within 48 hours after the Constitutional Court has declared them to be winners”.
The President must take an oath of office before the Chief Justice or the next most senior judge available. Speaking to journalists yesterday morning after a Post-Election Leadership Prayer Breakfast organised by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in Harare and flanked by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, President-elect Mnangagwa said: “The inauguration is not at my personal determination, it is determined by the constitution. The CJ, the Chief Justice, made it abundantly clear that the Constitution provides that the process of inauguration, post the decision of the constitutional court, is within 48 hours.
“The brothers and sisters in the media fraternity know what 48 hours are. You should have begun counting from yesterday (Friday) and determine when the 48 hours expire. I’m told by (VP Chiwenga) that he has done the calculation, that it ends tomorrow Sunday at 3:04PM. So I am going to be installed, inaugurated before 3:04 tomorrow.”In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said everything would be done in accordance with the Constitution.
“The preparations for the swearing in are on course. Following Friday’s judgment it means that inauguration has to happen and this will take place tomorrow (today). People are being invited and I understand there will be buses provided in all provinces to enable people to witness the historic event. On our part as the Justice Ministry, I should say we are done with all the necessary paperwork for the swearing in and we just wait for the moment.”
In an interview, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs And International Trade, Ambassador Joey Bimha said by last night they had got confirmation of attendance from all Sadc nations, some countries from the African Union and the international community.
“So far I can confirm that we have got confirmation of attendance from all the Sadc nations, some from AU and others representing the international community, what we are yet to get for now is the level of representation, which the various embassies are yet to confirm for protocol sake. My office is working right through the night so that we get all the necessary confirmations which will be key in tomorrow’s (today’s) inauguration, I am sure by morning we will have got all the dignitaries who will be attending the ceremony,” said Amb Bimha.
South Africa’s Presidential spokesperson Mrs Khusela Diko on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, on the other hand has encouraged all parties in Zimbabwe to accept Friday’s Constitutional Court decision saying it was important for all parties to work towards lasting peace, unity and prosperity in Zimbabwe.
“President Ramaphosa has congratulated President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the winner of the elections as confirmed by the Constitutional Court, and has recommitted South Africa’s readiness to work with the Government of Zimbabwe in the pursuit of closer political, cultural, economic and trade ties for the mutual benefit of the peoples of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“The South African Government urges all those involved in the court case, in particular the applicants and the respondents, to accept the decision of the court. It is important, going forward, that all parties work towards lasting peace, unity and prosperity in Zimbabwe,” said Mrs Diko.
Meanwhile, all the party’s provincial structures were yesterday busy with logistics to ferry party supporters to the capital. In Bulawayo there was a hive of activity as Zanu-PF supporters thronged the party’s provincial headquarters at Davies Hall to finalise logistics for the inauguration.
The party’s provincial secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde Christopher Sibanda, confirmed that there were 10 buses that had been allocated to transport supporters to Harare.
“We have been allocated 10 buses for the inauguration in Harare. We have five districts in this province, so they allocated two buses to each district to ferry people. But we heard there was an extra promise for one more bus per district giving us a total of 15 buses for the province,” he said.
Cde Sibanda said the delegates would travel overnight for the inauguration. In Matabeleland North, provincial chairman Cde Richard Moyo also said 10 buses have been allocated to transport people to the event.
“The buses were in the districts picking up people all day so they are traveling overnight to ensure that they arrive in time for this momentous event,” he said.
In Matabeleland South Province, Zanu-PF provincial chairperson, Cde Rabelani Choeni confirmed that 10 buses will transport people but added they would not be able to cater for the large number of people who wanted to attend the inauguration ceremony.
“The people on the ground are saying the 10 buses that were allocated to them are very few considering the number of rural folks that want to go. They said they are the real voters who voted for the President resoundingly so they need more buses to ferry them to the inauguration,” said Cde Choeni.